Texas twosome of Spieth/Palmer share Day 1 lead at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans
The new-look Zurich Classic of New Orleans got off to a compelling start Thursday with a pair of Texans sharing the opening-round lead as Jordan Spieth and Ryan Palmer shot a six-under 66 in foursomes play at TPC Louisiana.
Joining the two-time major winner and a three-time PGA Tour winner at six under was the duo of Kyle Stanley and Ryan Ruffels, who got to seven under before bogeying their final hole of the day.
Eighty two-man teams teed it up in the alternate-shot format, which produced some interesting names on the leader board.
Four teams sit one back at five-under 67, Jonas Blixt and Cameron Smith the only one to produce a bogey-free round. Charley Hoffman and Nick Watney settled in at T-3 after an eventful day that featured five birdies, an eagle and two bogeys. The two Bens (Crane and Martin) got to five under with birdies on two of their final three holes.
Arguably the most surprising performance came from the South Korean team of K.J. Choi and Charlie Wi, the other pairing a five under. Wi, 45, is making his first start since October, coaxed by his countryman Choi to return to play after all but retiring at the end of 2016.
Another squad of matching names—Patrick Reed and Patrick Cantlay—checked in two off the lead with a four-under 68. The players got off to a slow start on their opening nine, but bounced back strong coming in with five birdies, including three in a row before bogeying their final hole of the day.
With a combined age of 100 years old, the team of Jerry Kelly and Steve Stricker also shot 68.
Other notables in the top-10 at the end of Round 1 include the brothers Koepka. Brooks and Chase not only managed a three-under 69, but they also managed to not kill each other on the course, a possibility Brooks alluded to in the weeks leading up to the event.
The Japanese duo of Hideto Tanihara and No. 4 player in the world, Hideki Matsuyama, also carded a 69. Meanwhile, Jason Day and Rickie Fowler shot a one-under 71 and sit five shots off the pace.